What to Expect in Outpatient Treatment
Clients participating in outpatient (OP) level of care treatment do not need to live at the facility during their care. Instead, they can live at home or in a sober-living program, while they continue to receive services in support of their evolving recovery.
Although the services in outpatient vary from program to program, many of them follow a similar structure. Most outpatient treatment programs will require their clients to attend therapy sessions one to two days per week. This allows clients to focus much of their time on work, family, and participating in peer-led recovery activities such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. OP level of care provides ongoing support while individuals firmly establish a foundation for long-term recovery.
When clients are in the outpatient level of care, they will typically only spend one hour in a particular therapy session. The most common therapy sessions clients engage in while in OP involve individual therapy, where clients can work one-on-one with a trained and licensed therapist, as well as group counseling, where clients can come together to discuss and work through commonly shared issues.
If an individual is prescribed medication for substance use or co-occurring disorders, they can continue to see medical staff for prescriptions and medication adjustments.
Outpatient level of care treatment is often the last step in the continuum of clinical care that typically begins with residential or partial-hospitalization (PHP). Since OP is intended to provide a limited set of services for individuals who have been abstinent from substance use for 90 days or more, most programs do not admit clients directly to this level of care.
Benefits of Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient (OP) treatment for substance use disorders can be highly beneficial to those who participate in this level of care. The more time, effort, and dedication one applies to treatment, the more benefits often result. Some of the most common benefits associated with outpatient treatment programs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Building skills – For those individuals who have already completed some level of addiction treatment, they can continue to build and practice the skills they’ve been working on while in treatment. Some of the most important skills to build while in outpatient addiction treatment include improved communication, better understanding of addiction as a brain disorder, improving family relationships, and fostering self-reflection. Clients are able to practice these skills in a real-world setting and then process their experience in group or individual therapy sessions.
- Teamwork – Most of time a person spends in OP treatment primarily involves group counseling sessions. There, clients gather with a licensed therapist to discuss commonly shared issues as they work through those issues to find effective solutions. While in group counseling, clients work together to problem solve, develop new methods of coping, and build on the support they are developing with one another. Group counseling sessions serve as an excellent place to build a support system for all involved. Establishing an effective support network is absolutely vital when working to resolve issues related to addiction.
- Flexibility – Those who attend residential treatment programs, PHP’s, or IOP’s need to adhere to the schedule established by those programs that generally involves attending treatment sessions three to five days per week. However, since OP treatment is typically only one to two sessions per week, clients can build the treatment that they need into their everyday lives. For example, clients are able to see their individual therapist at a time that is best suited for their specific schedule. In this manner, clients can continue receiving the therapy they need while working full-time to provide for themselves and their families.
- Family involvement – All levels of addiction treatment typically offer family sessions as a routine standard of care and this should continue while in OP treatment. Research indicates that clients with family involvement have better treatment outcomes and improved chances for long-term recovery. Family sessions can include parents, siblings, spouses/partners, children, and even supportive friends. The opportunity to involve loved ones in a client’s treatment allows them to discuss how addiction has impacted their lives and to process difficult feelings in a safe environment. All participants in family sessions can obtain new information, improve communication skills, and learn different ways to address relational issues that have been challenging in the past.
Outpatient treatment is a key element in ongoing care and providing support for long-term recovery. If you or somebody you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call us right now. We understand how serious and devastating substance use disorders can be to individuals and their loved ones. The compassionate staff at Birmingham Recovery Center is prepared to answer your questions and provide supportive recommendations for this challenging process.